ALBUQUERQUE – As Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham is planning to call a special session to pass the Cannabis Regulation Act, a coalition of leading public health groups across New Mexico joined together to urge lawmakers to protect the state’s smokefree air laws, cautioning against the potential dangers of the this legislation. The group, including the American Cancer Society-Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), American Heart Association, American Lung Association in New Mexico, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, Campaign for Tobacco Free-Kids and New Mexico Allied Council on Tobacco issued a letter to lawmakers and Governor Lujan-Grisham stating the following:
“As leading public health organizations, we want to express significant concerns with the Cannabis Regulation Act. The Cannabis Act would roll back protections in the Dee Johnson Clean Indoor Air Act by allowing marijuana smoking, including the use of e-cigarettes, indoors in licensed marijuana establishments.
“Our organizations have long fought for laws and policies to make our communities in New Mexico and across the country smokefree. All Americans deserve to live, work, study and play in smokefree environments. By implementing smokefree environments, all workers and patrons can be protected from the dangers of all types of secondhand smoke, including marijuana smoke.
“Secondhand marijuana smoke contains many of the same toxins and carcinogens found in tobacco smoke. These toxins can cause lung irritation, asthma attacks, and make respiratory infections more likely. Exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke can exacerbate health problems especially for people with respiratory conditions like asthma, bronchitis, or COPD. The chemicals in marijuana have also been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks, heart failure and atrial fibrillation in observational studies.
“In 2007, New Mexico took a tremendous step forward for public health when it passed the Dee Johnson Clean Indoor Air Act, which eliminated smoking in almost all public places and workplaces in the state.
As states consider legalizing cannabis, our organizations have strongly urged decisionmakers to ensure current smokefree laws are protected. The smoking or aerosolizing of marijuana should be prohibited anywhere that tobacco use is currently prohibited. Decisionmakers must ensure that the smokefree environments that have been created continue to offer protection from secondhand marijuana smoke for workers and patrons.
“Unfortunately, the Cannabis Regulation Act would significantly roll back the Dee Johnson Clean Indoor Air Act. Of particular concern are sections that include wording for “cannabis consumption areas” and exemptions to the clean indoor air act. Decriminalizing marijuana should not roll back smokefree protections and bring smoking of cannabis indoors to public places and businesses. Every worker deserves a smokefree workplace.
“Nobody should have to breathe secondhand smoke, including secondhand marijuana smoke, while earning a paycheck. To best protect public health, we encourage the state legislature not to roll back the Dee Johnson Clean Indoor Air Act by allowing marijuana to be smoked, including through e-cigarettes, inside any workplaces, including licensed marijuana establishments.”